Tales of the First Folio
The First Folio discovered in the
Saint-Omer public library, near Calais.
Image from the New York Times.
During the Great Depression, a copy was filched from Williams College by a New York shoe salesman (who ultimately returned it in a drunken stupor because he was worried that it might fall into the hands of Adolf Hitler).
In 2008, an unemployed, self-described ‘fantasist’ named Raymond Scott walked into Washington, D.C.’s Folger Shakespeare Library with a copy that he claimed to have acquired from one of Fidel Castro’s bodyguards. The First Folio in question turned out to have been stolen from Durham University, and the flamboyant Scott – who arrived at his trial in a horse-drawn carriage, dressed in all white, holding a cigar in one hand and a cup of instant noodles in the other, while reciting lines from Shakespeare’s Richard III – was convicted of the theft and imprisoned).Rasmussen also relates some intriguing—but depressing—stories about copies that have disappeared.